Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement in honor of June 19, known as “Juneteenth,” marking the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and informed Galveston’s slaves that they were free men and women. These Americans celebrated June 19 as their day of emancipation and Juneteenth Independence Day, as it is commonly known, has been celebrated in the Southwest ever since:
“We celebrate an important day in our history today; a day when our nation began anew and ended the oppressive practice of slavery. We commemorate the joy of those newly freed Americans and reflect upon the true value of our freedoms.
“More than 145 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, we see African Americans leading our industries, our institutions, and our country.
“As we remember the last day of slavery in our nation, we know there are many who still live as slaves in the world—women who are sold in to sexual slavery, illegal immigrants indentured to their human smugglers, children sold into servitude out of dire need. This day reminds us of these victims of hate, violence, and greed still suffering the cruelty of slavery.
“As Americans we are called to voice the lessons of our past and recommit ourselves to restore human rights in the world and work toward a more just, equal society.”